Meet the Lake Hills Staff for 2017- 2018 School Year!
Natalie Levy- Owner
I grew up in Minsk, Belarus and moved to the US with my family when I was 8. Although I didn't have many Russian-speaking friends, I retained my Russian language by speaking with my family. My husband actually learned Russian in school so he wouldn't feel left out at family functions. I didn't realize how important the Russian language was to me until I had my two children and wanted them to speak it. While my education and background are in finance and fashion, I am so happy to trade it in for spending time with kids and being part of their preschool experience.
I came up with the concept of Birch Tree Academy when I realized how important both academic and social development was for my own children. After I was not able to find that combination in any schools I visited, I decided to create it. I really wanted a community of families that value education and a place where kids can feel welcome and make life-long friends. I was so excited when I realized other parents were looking for the same thing, and our preschool was born!
Although my main job is handling daily operations, I love getting to know all of the kids and playing with them during their outside breaks.
In my free time I like read, swim, take long walks with my kids and experiment with cooking.
Sherri Hubel- Director, Lake Hills
I was born and raised in southern California. I received my bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in psychology and Spanish. Having always wanted to learn another language, I studied abroad in Mexico twice and later in Costa Rica. I have a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential from California, with an emphasis in cross-cultural language and academic development. I’ve taught kindergarten, 3rd and 6th grade, including 4 years at an international school in the Netherlands. While teaching abroad, I had many students arrive with no English, while many others spoke 3 languages fluently.
My passion lies in dual language acquisition and preserving a child’s mother tongue and culture! It’s so important to preserve your family’s heritage while also embracing the community around you. My own children speak solely Dutch with my husband, and having learned Spanish and Dutch as an adult, I have an empathetic heart for those learning a new language.
I am so excited to meet your family and spend time with your sweet kids!
Rezeda Alimova- Office Manager, Lake Hills
I was born in Kazan, Russia and have lived in the Seattle for the past 4 years. I have a bachelor's degree in Finance and 5 years' banking experience. My son attends Birch Tree and I am so excited to have the opportunity to work in this fun and dynamic place. I enjoy working with kids and families, and am always happy to help with school related inquiries.
Lillian Hill- Goslings (1-2 year old) Co-Teacher
Danielle Shaubah- Goslings (1-2 year old) Co- Teacher
Viktoriia Starynets- Ducklings (1-2 year old) Co- Teacher
I was born in Ukraine, in Gorlovka city. I moved to America a year ago with my parents. I love everything that is connected with creativity - doing origami, singing, dancing, drawing and my favorite sports: hockey and basketball. I love working with children and have always helped my sister and friends take care of their children; now it has become my profession. I worked as a nanny and a tutor in a kindergarten with infants to age 5.
I am excited to work with the toddler at Birch Tree Academy and love the natural atmosphere and our wonderful team!
Supriya Jogdan- Ducklings (1-2 year old) Co- Teacher
I grew up in India. My mom was a preschool teacher, and it was from watching her that I gained my inspiration to follow suit. I have a Bachelor’s degree and Certification in Early Childhood Education. For 5 years I worked as a preschool teacher in India before I moved to St. Louis, Missouri. I moved to Washington State with my husband and two daughters.
I worked as a lead preschool teacher in Missouri for 3 years before I moved. In my spare time I love to watch movies, sing, read books, draw and crochet.
I’m excited to work in the one year old class! The one’s class is the best age; I get cute faces, hugs, and absolute unconditional love every single day.
Inna Burakovschki- Chipmunks (2-3 year old) Co- Teacher
I was born and raised in Moldova. My husband and I moved to the United States in 2017. I graduated from the University of Physical Education and Sports. Sports are my life! I practice power lifting, CrossFit, and weightlifting. I enter into a lot of competitions, sometimes I lose, and sometimes I win awards!
Before working at Birch Tree Academy, I worked as a fitness coach for children and adults. Children are our future. I strive to help develop their skills, health, ability, and knowledge of the world around them. Birch Tree Academy has welcomed me with open arms; it is a big and friendly family. I am honored to be apart of this group.
Christine Pringle- Chipmunks (2-3 year old) Co-Teacher
Anna Senchenko- Hedgehogs (2-3 year old) Co-Teacher
I was born in Ukraine and moved to the U.S. 2 years ago. Back home, I graduated in The Architecture Academy. I have worked as an architect part-time, as well as a nanny to several families. I have been at Birch Tree since the beginning of 2018. I love children helping them grow and develop. I enjoy doing art and projects with them.
In my free time, I like to get together with friends, drink coffee and travel. I have enjoyed my time with both students and staff here at Birch Tree and look forward to another great school year!
Cassandra Gallago-Hedgehogs (2-3 year old) Co-Teacher
Elyse Manns, Bunnies (2-3 year old) Class Lead Teacher
I was born in Multnomah, Oregon and moved to Seattle 22 years ago. After graduating high school I earned my Veterinarian Technicians license. I soon found that veterinary medicine was not a fulfilling passion for me, and I began searching for alternatives. I worked as a mechanic for Boeing, and taught soccer to kids ranging 4-15. During my time as a coach, I learned that I was teaching kids about more than soccer. I was teaching them how to regulate emotions, socialize, and build self-confidence. Watching the kids grow on and off the field gave me such joy! It was these experiences that lead me to pursue a career as a preschool teacher.
I earned my Early Childhood certificate through Washington State University. Afterwards, I worked in preschools and as a nanny. I've worked with children for 8 years and counting. I am also going to Highline Community College. I am taking courses for Child Development, Child Psychology, and Social Work.
In my spare time I enjoy reading, traveling, hiking, fishing, and playing soccer. I joined the Birch Tree Academy team in April of 2017. I am so excited to join the Lake Hills location in the Hedgehogs room! I am honored to be apart of the Birch Tree Family, and I look forward to spending time with all my students.
Julie Rogers- Bunnies (2-3 year old) Co-Teacher
Daria Gorbenko, Racoons (3-4 year old) Co- Teacher
I grew up in the southern rural region of Russia. Both of my parents were educators, and I graduated from Chelyabinsk State University. My husband and I moved to Washington State in 2010. Soon after I started working as a language instructor.
Before joining Birch Tree Academy, I organized a co-op preschool for my two kids and their friends. For me this was a great and enjoyable experience, and teaching became my passion. I decided to continue my career as a teacher in the field of early childhood education.
I especially enjoy working with preschool age children. I believe that teaching through play is the best way to prepare kids for their future years.
My hobbies include gardening, hiking, and studying foreign languages and diverse cultures. I love spending time with my family, traveling, and exploring new places.
Camila Arnaiz-Racoons (3-4 Year Old) Co- Teacher
I was born in Los Angeles to Peruvian Parents; it wasn’t long until they moved back to their motherland. Living in Peru, Spanish was my first language. After attending primary school, my family and I moved to the United States. One of my biggest challenges moving was learning a new language. I wanted to become fluent in English, but also retain my first language and the culture that goes with it. We moved to Washington, where I finished the rest of my schooling.
I started nannying after graduating from high school. This experience lead me to my passion in early childhood education. I have five years of experience as a lead teacher for both toddler and preschool age groups. I also have experience teaching in Spanish. I am currently enrolled at Bellevue College. My dream is to transfer to University of Washington after I graduate.
I love teaching at Birch Tree Academy in a bilingual program. I am able to use my own experience to help my students conquer a new language. My goal is to give children a positive outlook on learning that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I enjoy spending my time with my family, cooking, traveling, and attending concerts. I also love learning new languages!
Nadia Madalina, Racoons (3-4 Year Old) Assistant Teacher
I was born in Ukraine and moved to America with my family when I was 8 years old. I have 4 years of banking experience and 1 year customer service at Nordstroms. After I got married, I nannied for a year before I gave birth to my son. I come from a big family of 11 siblings and 15 nieces and nephews, so I have been surrounded by kids and babies all my life and I absolutely love it! I believe that early child development is very important.
A year after my son was born, I started working for Birch Tree Academy and I am so happy and excited to be working here! I love watching these kids grow and learn new things that they are able to put into practice and get excited about. It is a privilege to work with these children and I love them as I do my own son, which I am so grateful is also attending here.
In my free time, I like to read, cook, explore new cafes, be outdoors, take long walks and spend as much time with my family and friends as I can.
Julie Miller, Foxes (3-4 year old) Class Lead Teacher
I am so excited to be the pre-school teacher this year! I have an early Childhood Education degree and have worked with young children for over 25 years. I enjoy providing many experiences for them to learn and explore the world they live in. It is important to me that kids feel loved and confident. I want all my students to feel positive about them and ensure they are ready to start pre-k. I also enjoy reading, camping and many outdoor activities with my 3 granddaughters.
Nalika Virachi- Foxes (3-4 year old) Class Assistant Teacher
Natalia Romanova- Fawns (4-5 year old) Class Co-Teacher
Josh Christmas- Fawns (4-5 year old) Class Co-Teacher
My name is Josh Christman, or you may have heard of me referred to as Mr. Josh. I have lived in north-west Washington pretty much my entire life and absolutely love it here! I studied at BCC then transferred to the University of Montana to study fine arts. I have worked with children preschool through sixth grade on and off for over 12 years now. My favorite thing about working with children is seeing the pride they get when they achieve personal milestones along with watching their personalities grow.
In my spare time I am in the mountains or on the rivers! I love to be outdoors and I spend all of my free time there. In the summertime you can find me in the mountains, I love to hike and backpack all over the cascades and Olympics as well as trail running. I also enjoy fly fishing along the local rivers for everything from trout to salmon. During the winter time all my free time will be on snow, I split board, snowboard and ski.
Jessica Sanders, Cubs (4-5 year old) Class Lead Teacher
Born and raised in Ballard, I am a Seattle native. I grew up loving the outdoors. I spent my summers backpacking, camping, and playing in the great North West!
I have 11 years of experience working with children. I’ve done everything from teaching Kindergarten Enrichment to running summer camps at the YMCA. I spent 3 summers teaching English to orphans at Samuel House Academy in Udaipur, India. I am actively involved in Children's Ministries at my Church, Westgate Chapel.
In my spare time I travel, snowboard, play video games, hike, and DJ for events such as weddings and concerts.
Joanna Sheppard, Assistant Teacher
I grew up in the Seattle area and am currently attending Bellevue College as a full-time student. I am interested in pursuing pediatric nursing or midwifery. Throughout high school I enjoyed working as a nanny.
I enjoy spending my free time with my friends and family. I also love to develop my skills in social media marketing and photography. I am excited to be a part of the Birch Tree community and expand my experience in Early Childhood Education!